Projects and Partners

Crofters’ Diversity Pays!

EU & Scotland - European Social Fund The Crofters’ Diversity Pays! is a partnership with SCF, Queen Margaret University and SASA (Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture) and mostly crofter-SME partners to test and develop new ideas that will add diversity and value to traditional crofting crops.

We will be exploring and testing new supply chains for crofting traditional varieties or landraces in different crofting areas, starting with:

Shetland cabbage, Shetland - applying to register as a conservation variety and investigating viability of sale of seeds in different markets

Hebridean rye, Lochaber, testing performance throughout the supply chain – field, milling, nutritional composition, baking, tasting and branding

Events, results and reports will be uploaded as the project progresses and available through the SCF e-newsletter and in The Crofter. For further information please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Crofters’ Diversity Pays! partner logos

Gaining Ground - Highland & Moray Social Crofting Network

The Scottish Crofting Federation with funding from Highland and Moray LEADER are running a co-operation project within these regions. The project will run until May 2020 and is promoting the concept of “green care” i.e. the promotion of social, mental and physical wellbeing through working with the land and animals. The project is aimed at both crofters and smallholders living in the Highland and Moray regions, and is quickly gathering interest from a range of people including crofters, smallholders, service providers, social workers, teachers, support services and families interested in social crofting opportunities. A network is being developed to look at ways of supporting entry into this new labour market as a diversification opportunity.

The project is providing an opportunity to scope crofters and smallholders who currently provide services and look, in detail, at their voluntary or business models. A series of events are being organised to assess current interest, provide opportunities for learning journeys, promote and disseminate information, develop relevant factsheets and make recommendations for the future of a formalised network. Find out more on the Gaining Ground website

Hedgerow Jelly - a study in Biodiversity and Responsible Foraging

Hedgerow fruits

The Woodland Trust Scotland, in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Crofting Federation, is offering schools in Highland, Moray and Argyll & Bute the opportunity to apply for a Hedgerow Jelly pack.

The pack contains:
* a pack of young hedgerow plants from six fruiting species for your school grounds;
* an information sheet with planting and care instructions, introducing the hedge as a source of biodiversity and safe, responsible foraging;
* a colourful hedgerow poster, including the recipe for Hedgerow Jelly;
* links to online resources to highlight the range of learning opportunities of the hedge.
This is a long-term project, starting with planting a new hedge, caring for it (with minimum input) and watching it mature over the years, to provide a haven for wildlife and, in a few years, to yield a harvest of fruit for a special jelly.

For further information contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

To read a PDF about the project Please click here ...
To see a poster about the project Please click here ...

The Croft Woodlands Project

The Croft Woodlands Project offers free advice and support to crofters, common grazings and the wider crofting community to create new, mixed woodland and shelterbelts or improve the management of existing native woodland. Support is also available to smallholders in the Crofting Counties. Funding is available for small scale-tree planting and hedges. The Project can also help with the costs of preparing and submitting an application to the Forestry Grant Scheme.

The Croft Woodlands Project is a partnership between Scottish Crofting Federation, the Woodland Trust Scotland, Point and Sandwick Trust, Forestry Commission Scotland and, Coigach & Assynt Living Landscapes, Shetland Amenity Trust, Orkney Woodland Project, Argyll Small Woods Cooperative and the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust. It will run until mid 2020.

For further details download the Croft Woodland Project leaflet here, or contact your local adviser.

Hungry for Rights

Hungry for rights Hungry for Rights aims to educate and raise awareness of alternative food systems, offering extensive training and tutoring to promote short supply chains in crofting areas of Western Scotland.
Starting in 2013 the new 3 year EU-funded project, will emphasise that the development of short supply chains is an issue of concern for all citizens. A change from industrial forms of food production to shorter supply chains and more local food will require not only producers to change their production but also consumers and local authorities to change their habits and policies. Consumers are often a driving force behind the local development of short food supply chains. Local authorities can play a role in the promotion of local food through public procurement. Therefore, the project brings together representatives of these different groups. The inclusive approach will guarantee a thorough diagnosis of challenges and bottlenecks, help to identify specific needs for skills development and capacity building and enable work on a shared agenda on local food policy.
The lead partner is ACRA (Cooperazione Rurale in Africa e America Latina), a non-governmental, non-profit, organisation, recognised by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Union. Other project partners include Friends of the Earth Cyprus, Urgenci- the international network for Community Supported Agriculture in France, the Baltic Environmental Forum - Legambiente and People’s Expo in Italy.
Project workshops
Workshops will be organised with three thematic areas: food policy, alternative food systems and the future of crofting. On food policy, the first workshop was a public consultation on Becoming a Good Food Nation, held in Inverness, 24 September 2014. This was co-organised with Nourish Scotland. For 2015 workshops on different ways of organising local produce will be organised, such as box schemes and food hubs. Hungry for Rights will co-organise the Young Crofters gathering in Assynt.
Project outputs
A good introduction to the project is a video (please click here ) made during the international exchange visit in France November last year in which participants from each country give their perspective on alternatives to the current food system or about community-based food systems in their country.
A series of Best Practices in community-based food systems from the project partner countries, with case studies from Cyprus, Italy, France, Lithuania, Scotland and Senegal, can be downloaded here.
Project website:
Hungry for rights partners

Crofting Community Mapping

There are nearly 18,000 crofts in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, with crofters managing three quarters of a million hectares of land. Most of this huge asset is unmapped. New legislation due to be implemented in two years’ time, will require crofters to register their land on a national land register held by Registers of Scotland (RoS). There are potential problems;

  • most crofters do not have the information required to register their land and it is difficult to obtain this information
  • the nature of crofting and its history has meant that it is not clear in many communities where both land rights and usufruct rights begin and end - much of the information is held by elders, but with an aging population this information is being lost;
  • it will cause disputes that could only be resolved in the Scottish Land Court – a costly and uncertain means of trying to resolve matters;
  • Substantial costs could be met by the public under the Legal Aid system;
  • the mapping itself will need to be done by ‘experts’ for each individual and so will be costly;
  • it is likely to take several generations to get the register completed;
  • it will cause resentment and crofters are likely to develop avoidance strategies.

The SCF believes that a community mapping approach to populating the register of crofts would be far more effective and acceptable than the individual ‘trigger point’ concept proposed by Scottish Government. The community gather together and helped by trained facilitators and mediators they generate the maps of their community assets together by walking through the community, comparing existing maps, drawing boundaries on maps and so on. This is a well-practiced development methodology that has proven benefits:

It gets the community together in an exercise that strengthens the community and builds social capital; the community takes ownership of the mapping and the subsequent agreed maps; disputes will still arise but can be more easily resolved at the time using trained mediators in the exercise; the community creates a collective map and/or a series of individual maps that could be submitted to the register together; the mapping itself can be cheaper as there is less dependence on judicial expertise; maps are created and registered in a matter of months. Depending on how well resourced this is, the whole crofting area could be mapped in a few years rather than generations.

What do we hope to achieve?

This project aims to enable communities to take pre-emptive steps to agree their rights and boundaries before they are required to map them for the Land Register. It will also enable communities to assess their assets, both household and community, that will enable them to better plan future developments within their community.
We are pleased to say that the Scottish Government and Registers of Scotland (RoS) are now co-funding a post to facilitate and encourage group registrations to the Crofting Register.
Please see our Rules of Procedure below:

Crofting Resources Programme

Crofting Resources ProgrammeFundamental to SCF is our belief in the crofting system and in crofting underpinning the future of the rural policy in the crofting counties. We are working to increase the contribution made by crofting to our communities by providing a range of valuable support services by crofters.
The Crofting Resources Programme (CRP), which is funded by the Scottish Rural Development Programme, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, aims to build capacity within the crofting community through collaborative activity. The CRP develops co-operation and assists networks of producers to utilise existing best practice. Crofter-led producer groups have considerable capacity to contribute to the aims of the Scottish Government Food Policy.
The programme assists crofting communities to make best use of the resources available to them in order to sustain the cultural heritage of crofting, its people and practices, and the rich environment and cultural landscape derived from extensive crofting land use
For more information please see the Crofting Resources Programme (CRP) web page.
SCF would like to thank the the following organisations for supporting this programme.
CRP Sponsors
This project is now completed.

Crofting Connections

Crofting Connections ~ Ceanglaichean Croitearachd

Pupils harvesting potatoes Learning about crofting past, present and future, and helping schools to deliver the Curriculum for Excellence. Crofting Connections is a programme of activities and events that will inspire over 1,000 young people aged 5-16 living in remote rural communities throughout the Highlands & Islands about crofting past, present and future.
They will learn traditional skills from crofters, create their own climate-friendly food-growing projects, and help safeguard the history, culture and heritage associated with their crofting communities.
For more information please see the
Crofting Connections webpage.
Crofting Connections Logoor visit the website at
Crofting Connections would like to thank the following organisations for funding this project.
CC Funding Organisations

Skills Development Scheme

Skills Development SchemeParticipants are invited to select from the following units, and then to attend training days on specific elements of that unit. The units, and some example training days that may be available are:

  • Crofting Livestock (sheep shearing; lambing; foot trimming and worm control)
  • Croft Land Management (fencing; pest control; soil analysis; equipment use)
  • Crofting Conservation and Environment (muirburn; improving grassland; managing wetland)
  • Crofter Forestry (coppicing; structural support for trees; deer management)
  • Crofter Horticulture (use of polytunnels; crop disorders; soft fruit growing)
  • Crofter Heritage Skills (local dry-stone walling styles;lime mortarting; thatching)

For 2013-15 there are practical training days for all units planend across the Crofting Counties.
Training will be arranged and delivered through local, approved trainers, and will be available across the Highlands and Islands. The exact location and topic of the training days will depend on the demand for each course, so we welcome training requests.
A regular email update can be provided to everyone interested in the programme, and information on upcoming courses will also be available on the training page of the website.
SCF would like to thank the following organisations funding the skills development scheme.
Skills Development Funders

Connecting Coastal Communities

elgolFor the island fishermen of Scotland and Ireland, their work is more than just a source of income. It is a livelihood from a way of living that has helped to define island identities for many generations. Small-scale fishermen on the islands of Arranmore, Inishbofin and Tory off the west coast of County Donegal in Ireland, and on Barra in the Western Isles of Scotland believe that their livelihood and way of living is threatened by powerful forces against which they find it difficult to make their voices heard.
In Donegal the islanders are seeking to overturn the Irish government’s decision to implement a total ban on their traditional subsistence salmon fishery - the ban has been implemented because there has been a decline nationally in the numbers of salmon returning to Irish rivers. On Barra, the islanders are opposing proposals from the Scottish Government’s heritage conservation agency to establish a marine Special Area of Conservation in the seas close to the island.
In both localities concern is being expressed that emigration - on islands where past population loss has been dramatic - will begin to increase again, and that restrictions on or the loss of a traditional livelihood from fishing, which has been so vital for the island peoples’ past survival, could make life on the island unteneable for many who have maintained cultural traditions - including the language traditions. These concerns have been made particularly acute in the context of the current economic crisis.
The Connecting Coastal Communities project aims to be a means by which islanders can express the importance of their relationship with their home place and of their working relationships with the seas, relationships which have helped to inform their cultural identities.
The research, which is being supported by funding from the ColmCille Partnership, will be carried out by Iain MacKinnon from the Isle of Skye and Liam Campbell from Donegal.
They will be asking fishermen on the Donegal islands and on Barra to tell them what their work means to them not just as a source of income, but also as a way of living - and whether and how this way of living has encouraged a sense of responsibility for their environment, as well as supporting their cultural and linguistic traditions.
By exploring their distinctive but shared maritime cultural identities, the research will seek to express connections between the Scottish and Irish island communities in ways that will encourage their resilience to maintain traditions in the face of a changing world.
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